AFC Roster Rumors: Van Roten, Jefferson, Scharping, Reed

As the calendar year ticks away the days, NFL teams are having to start thinking about the difficult decisions they will have to make to eventually get their rosters down to 53 players to start the season. While the teams still have almost two months to make all the necessary cuts, many veterans are entering training camp on roster bubbles.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the players who may find themselves looking for a new team by the time the season begins:

  • The Bills brought in free agent offensive guard Greg Van Roten to solidify their depth on the interior of the offensive line. The 32-year-old veteran has starting experience with the last two clubs he’s spent time with, the Panthers and Jets, but he may not even make it to the final 53-man roster in Buffalo, according to Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN. As the Bills figure out just who will receive their coveted roster spots, the final spot will likely become a battle between Van Roten, Greg Mancz, whose experience at center could give him an edge, and rookie sixth-round pick Luke Tenuta.
  • The Ravens are overloaded with talent at the safety position. With free agent addition Marcus Williams, first-round pick Kyle Hamilton, and incumbent starters from last year Chuck Clark and Brandon Stephens all crowding the depth chart, veteran Tony Jefferson may find himself on the outside looking in, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. Jefferson was released by Baltimore two offseasons ago, following a season mostly lost to a torn ACL, but was brought back last year after starting safety DeShon Elliott went down with a season-ending injury and Baltimore needed another veteran presence in their defensive backfield. Unfortunately, with the influx of new talent combined with the presence of last year’s starters, the Ravens may find that rostering Jefferson is not crucial to their depth at the position.
  • After trading cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. to the Chiefs this offseason, the Texans‘ 2019 draft class is down to two remaining players: first-round tackle Tytus Howard and second-round guard Max Scharping. While Howard has established himself as a starter on the line, Scharping is not a lock for the 53-man roster, according to Sarah Barshop of ESPN. Scharping stepped up as a starter during his rookie season but could not manage to hold onto the spot in his second year. The 2021 season saw Scharping struggle enough that his roster spot is now in question.
  • Over the past three seasons, pass rusher Malik Reed has been a lifesaver for Denver as the Broncos saw stars Von Miller and Bradley Chubb each miss time over the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons. Some roster moves by the Broncos, though, seem to be pointing toward some roster danger for Reed, according to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. Free agent Randy Gregory was brought in on a $70MM contract, Denver drafted rookie Nik Bonitto in the second round this year, and the Broncos moved Baron Browning to outside linebacker after he played his entire rookie season on the inside. That trio will all be under contract until at least 2025, while Reed is in a contract year. This doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the former undrafted free agent, who has done a lot to earn his spot. But, with only one roster spot likely to be available at the position, Reed will potentially be duking it out with 2021 seventh-round pick Jonathon Cooper for the final OLB roster spot.
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